The teaser trailer for the much-anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has dropped, and while Mr. Robot star Rami Malek is a ringer for the Queen front man — often shirtless, in tight pants, and sporting that signature moustache — the trailer telegraphs his queerness only in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment.
Mercury, an iconoclast with killer pipes, and Queen rose to fame in the 1970s with hit after hit including "We Are the Champions," "Killer Queen," "Another One Bites the Dust," and the film's titular song. Closeted throughout his life, Mercury, who was bisexual, engaged in affairs with men but referred to a woman he loved in his youth, Mary Austin, as “the love of his life,” according to the biography Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury. Mercury became one the highest-profile celebrities to succumb to AIDS, dying at age 45 in 1991, but viewers wouldn’t know that from watching the teaser for Bohemian Rhapsody.
At first glance, the teaser appears to straight-wash Mercury entirely, choosing instead to focus on furtive glances from female fans and Mercury’s insistence on the operatic interlude in the megahit song “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
But a closer inspection reveals the trailer does allude to Mercury’s affairs with men in a three-shot segment that blips through what appears to be a gay bar juxtaposed with a shot of him about to touch another man, followed by a close-up of Mercury sporting a leather daddy look replete with aviator glasses, a cap, and his full ’stache.
"The only thing more extraordinary than their music is his story," reads the tagline across the images of the trailer. But there is no indication of Mercury’s battle with AIDS, which due to his high profile and having been a beloved star helped usher in new awareness of the epidemic.
Out director Bryan Singer was slated to helm the film, but due to what was referred to as his “unexpected unavailability,” according to the studio, and a “personal health matter,” according to Singer, he was let go. With Singer gone, Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill, Sunshine on Leith) stepped in to direct.
The film, which will hopefully fully explore Mercury’s loves, life, music, and death, costars Mike Myers, Tom Hollander, and Lucy Boynton (as Mary Austin).